SIGAR Sopko Briefs Oversight Committee Following U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan
Washington, D.C. (August 31, 2021)—Today, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko provided a remote briefing to Members of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. Following the briefing, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, released a statement:
“President Biden was right to bring our sons and daughters in uniform home from Afghanistan. After 20 years of war, the President has been clear that he was not going to pass the baton to another generation of Americans to fight in a war that they were not alive to even see begin.
“The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan nevertheless comes with significant risks to our national security and the people of Afghanistan. We are grateful to our servicemembers and diplomats, who worked heroically to evacuate more than 120,000 Americans and Afghan nationals in a matter of weeks, and we grieve for those who lost their lives in the cowardly terrorist attack at Kabul International Airport. Our Committee remains laser-focused on helping the Biden Administration to ensure that U.S. citizens, our Afghan allies, and other vulnerable populations, can continue to evacuate safely now that our military and diplomatic personnel have departed Kabul.
“We thank Special Inspector General Sopko for briefing us today, and we plan to request a classified briefing with the Administration in the coming days so that we can question the relevant agencies directly about how they will continue this critically important mission and defend our national security interests in this new chapter of U.S. engagement with Afghanistan.”
SIGAR Sopko provided the following information during the briefing:
- Mr. Sopko told the Committee that the collapse of the Afghan Government was the result of a “series of mistakes that were made” across multiple administrations. He later added, “rather than finger pointing to any particular president or any particular administration, let’s learn from the mistakes.”
- The U.S. reconstruction mission in Afghanistan was always likely to struggle, Mr. Sopko argued, because “we didn’t understand the culture and the country we were operating in, and that is one of the most serious indictments against our 20-year exercise in Afghanistan.”
- Mr. Sopko told the Committee that “the world cannot look away now” from Afghanistan and must “keep a spotlight on the Taliban” to ensure they uphold and guarantee the rights of all Afghans, especially Afghan women, girls, and ethnic minorities.